A global consensus that the U.S. will not pull back on its aggressive monetary policies is pushing markets higher at home and abroad. The Federal Reserve ends its two-day meeting Wednesday and issues its last statement and updated economic forecasts of 2013.
KEEPING SCORE: Dow Jones industrial futures are up 33 points to 15,843. S&P futures have gained 3.2 points to 1,776.20. Nasdaq futures are up 4.75 points to 3,465.50.
JOBS v. INFLATION: The final monthly U.S. jobs report of 2013 was huge. Unemployment fell to 7 percent in November, the lowest in five years, and employers added 203,000 jobs. But inflation remains historically low and well under the Fed's 2 percent target rate. That means consumers and businesses are not spending, and that is making Fed officials cautious about pulling back on the monthly $85 billion bond-buying program that has kept markets flush with cash.
BUILDING BLOCKS: Markets are also reacting to news on the housing front Wednesday. The Commerce Department says builders broke ground on homes at the fastest pace in more than five years. The rate at which builders broke ground was 23 percent higher than in October. And permits for single-family homes rose, illustrating builder confidence in the market in coming months. Before the opening bell, the homebuilder Lennar surprised Wall Street by reporting a 32 percent profit spike for the fourth quarter. Shares are up 4 percent.
EVERYTHING IS POLITICAL: Markets are also being buoyed over something that hasn't happened in three years. Congress appears to be on the verge of passing a budget that is unlikely to hurt the economy. As a result, many economists expect the U.S. could experience financial growth it has not seen since the beginning of the last recession six year ago.
CORPORATE FARE: FedEx is reporting a 14 percent jump in second-quarter earnings. Oracle will post earnings after bell Wednesday. Nike, ConAgra, Rite Aid and Walgreen are among the companies reporting earns later this week.